Power Pair: Ndidi Oriji and Vincent Southerland

In celebration of Valentine's Day, Ms. JD set out to interview power couples--married couples, best friends, sisters, and business partners--who suport each other in life and/or work. Our first interview is with Ndidi Oriji and Vincent Southerland. Ndidi is the Vice President of Advertising Standards at NBCUniversal and Vincent is Senior Counsel in the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Criminal Justice Practice. You can find more about this incredible power couple below, but first, a few questions for Ndidi and Vincent.

Tell us a little about your relationship.

We have been married for three years and together for just over seven years.

What brought you together?

We found love in a hopeless place: the internet. We met on a dating site.

What keeps you together?

Our marriage has been built on love, friendship, respect, support, kindness, and understanding. Those values have strengthened our relationship through the years and kept us together. Life has lots of highs and lows. Knowing someone will be by your side through the good and the bad makes all the difference in the world.

What have been your biggest challenges in working together and/or supporting one another?

The decisions we make as individuals have significant consequences for both of us, and because life does not come with instructions, every big choice you make is a leap of faith, in some way. That can be scary and challenging.

Do you have any techniques or advice for successfully supporting or working with another person?

Empathy is critical. It is important to not only hear what the other person is saying, but to understand their perspective. A willingness to listen, to be patient, and to admit when you are wrong can also go a long way.

Thank you, Ndidi and Vincent!

Vincent Southerland joined LDF in August of 2008. He is a Senior Counsel in LDF’s Criminal Justice Practice, and engages in litigation and advocacy focused on eliminating the taint of racial bias from the criminal justice system. His work centers on a wide variety of criminal justice issues, including capital punishment, mass incarceration, state and federal sentencing practices, and the role of race in the administration of justice. Mr. Southerland represents death-sentenced prisoners in state and federal post-conviction proceedings throughout the South, challenging racial discrimination and the ineffective assistance of counsel in those cases. He is also counsel in Brister v. Mississippi, one of the first cases nationwide to implement the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which declared mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles unconstitutional. Recently, Mr. Southerland argued on behalf of LDF as amicus curiae before an en banc panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in U.S. v. Blewett, a case that sought to give retroactive effect to 2010’s Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the racially discriminatory 100:1 sentencing ratio for crack and powder cocaine to 18:1. Mr. Southerland is also counsel in Sheff v. O’Neill, a school desegregation case in Connecticut aimed at eliminating segregation and economic disparities between Hartford, Connecticut schools and those in the surrounding suburbs. In his spare time Vincent enjoys djing. More on Vincent can be found here.

Ndidi Oriji has been the Vice President of Advertising Standards at NBCUniversal since August 2012. She leads a department tasked with the review of all advertising airing on the NBC broadcast network, certain advertising airing on NBCUniversal’s 17 national cable networks (including USA, Bravo, and SyFy), and all custom advertising content produced by the broadcast network.  Ms. Oriji also manages legal and reputational risk to NBCUniversal when policy issues arise and formulates policy changes and public responses.  Prior to her current role, Ms. Oriji was counsel in the West Coast Entertainment group of NBCUniversal for two years.  She counseled NBCUniversal's broadcast network, cable networks, digital properties, and local owned stations on a number of legal issues with respect to their advertising production activities. From August 2008 to September 2010, Ms. Oriji was counsel in the Intellectual Property group of the NBCUniversal legal department, focusing on advertising and promotions. She was responsible for all sweepstakes, contests, games, and other promotions across all of NBCUniversal’s properties.  Before joining NBCUniversal, Ms. Oriji was an associate in the Entertainment Department of Loeb & Loeb, LLP for two years where her practice areas included entertainment, advertising, marketing and promotions, and emerging media law.  Prior to Loeb & Loeb, Ms. Oriji spent two and a half years as an associate in the New York office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where she specialized in corporate mergers and acquisitions. Ms. Oriji graduated from New York University School of Law in 2003.  The summer after her first year of law school, Ms. Oriji was a legal aid intern at the Peking University Center for Women's Law Studies and Legal Services in Beijing, China. In her spare time Ms. Oriji enjoys performing stand-up comedy.  Ms. Oriji is a member of the New York City Bar Association and the Nigerian Lawyers Association.

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